Wigwam have the rare distinction of being the only '70s band from Finland to have made any impact outside the country, as well as being an incubator for the country's top prog musicians -- the only catch was that the anticipated massive breakthrough never happened.
The group came together in the late '60s, when drummer Ronnie Österberg, expat English singer/keyboard player Jim Pembroke, guitarist Nikke Nikamo, and bassist Mats Hulden, all of whom had been in Blues Section, decided to form a new band. They drafted in keyboardist Jukka Gustavson, and Wigwam was born. Their first album, 1969's Hard'n'Horny, had Gustavson's work on one side, Pembroke's on the other. For their second album, Tombstone Valentine, both Hulden and Nikamo had vanished, having experienced disputes with the producer, American scenester Kim Fowley. But the record did see the debut of virtuoso bass player Pekka Pohjola. While well received, it still didn't sell many copies, which was also true of their next disc, Fairyport. Following that, both Pembroke and Pohjola made solo albums, leaving Gustavson to put together the next band effort, the dark and prog-ish Being, which won Album of the Year in Finland. But even awards couldn't keep Pohjola and Gustavson in the band, although before they left, they took part in the shows that made up 1975's Live Music From the Twilight Zone, a concert mix of solo material and covers of the Beatles and the Band. Following that, the band split briefly. The reformation brought plenty of new personnel and Pemboke as the central figure, Wigwam went on to enjoy their most successful period, releasing Nuclear Nightclub, which was licensed for international distribution by Virgin, who brought the band to England to tour -- at which point they also recorded their next disc, Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose. Wigwam seemed on the verge of real success, but couldn't quite cross over, and when the follow-up, tentatively titled Daemon Duncetan's Request, was turned down by Virgin, the bottom seemed to fall out. The record was revamped and released in Finland in 1977 as Dark Album. But by the time it hit the shelves, Wigwam had played an unofficial farewell show and split for the second time. Pembroke moved to Kansas, and continued to record solo albums, and in 1993 the band regrouped to record Light Ages. Occasional shows have been played since, but while best-of and rarities CDs have been released, the group definitely isn't officially together. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi